By Darin Von Ruden, president, Wisconsin Farmers Union
Nobody seemed to care where their pet treats came from until dogs started dropping dead from eating tainted treats, mostly from China. Since 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 5,800 complaints from consumers about their pets getting sick and, sadly, over 1,000 of them perished.
Congress understood, through the outbreak, that consumers have a right to know where their pet food – and their own food – comes from and in 2008 passed a law known as Country-of- Origin Labeling (COOL).
COOL says that muscle cuts of meat, and some fruits and vegetables, must be labeled with the country’s name where it was produced. It doesn’t restrict imports; it simply gives grocery shoppers information to make purchasing decisions that are right for their families. If a family prefers Vietnamese catfish or Mexican meatloaf, there will be available options. If not, the family can choose locally grown U.S. alternatives.
Foreign countries fear that informed U.S. consumers will favor homegrown products. We might. Are we not allowed that right? Meanwhile, multinational corporations that crave cheap imports for their products oppose the cost of labeling. They also prefer to pass off foreign meat as though it is from American ranchers.
COOL is the law of the land, and Congress needs to leave it alone until the WTO process comes to closure.